Spring Statement offers little sunshine for developers

Developers’ expectations were low before Phillip Hammond dashed any hope of reform to the myriad of taxes experts say are strangling the market.

“Well that was disappointing!” said Russell Midgley, Director at Aspen Woolf. “We were expecting at least some reform on the disastrous stamp duty structure that continues to hamper first time buyers. But nothing. One can only hope for the Autumn Budget because it can’t continue.”

“There was not a single mention of the interest rate relief for BTL investors,” Oliver Ramsden, Director at Aspen Woolf added. “With the changes introduced next month, we’ll soon see that the proposal will not work and will ultimately hit the renters as landlords move to hike rents to cover their losses.”

Indeed, the Spring Statement left many developers cold. “I wasn’t expecting many rabbits from the hat of today’s Budget announcement but it would have been great to see the Chancellor focus on helping Britain’s housing market,” Michelle Niziol, Director of IMS Independent Property Solutions, said. “More affordable homes are needed in the areas where people want to live and work. The Chancellor should have used today’s Budget to announce new measures to speed up house building and cut planning red tape, as well as announce changes to the Stamp Duty tax system.”

What was left out of the Spring Statement was more significant than what was put it. nonetheless, the housebuilding industry has derived some cold comfort from what was offered.

“While there’s not for much for developers to get excited about, the £113m pot for investment in regional transport infrastructure is very welcome,” Howard Crocker, Managing Director, Delph Property Group, said. “Our regional cities are enjoying a renaissance, with young people attracted by lower living costs and a healthy jobs market. Unfortunately spending on transport has not kept pace with this exciting urban renewal we are seeing in the Midlands and the North. Today’s announcement is a definite step in the right direction.”

The shakeup to vocational training was also viewed as encouraging. “We applaud the measures announced today to support the UK’s economy, particularly on skills,” said David Thomas, chief executive of Barratt Developments. “With 350,000 workers having left construction since the financial crisis, there is a real need to bring in more young people into the industry with new skills, so the announcements today are important. Equally important is the need to maintain high quality standards in the drive to build more homes. As a five star rated builder this is something we recognise and are focussed upon.”

PHOTO CREDIT: Suzanne Plunkett

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